Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Playing at: Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12
“Arrival” is a complex, mind-bending piece of science fiction that challenges its audiences, then rewards them with something quite profound. It features strong work behind the camera from Denis Villeneuve (the man behind “Sicaro” and “Prisoners”) and in front from lead Amy Adams.
She plays Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist who is recruited to help the government when 12 alien spacecrafts arrive and hover ominously in different areas of the world, including Montana in the United States. The team, headed by Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker), also includes a scientist named Ian (Jeremy Renner).
Just when it looks like Louise is close to breaking the aliens language – and more importantly learning why they are here – tensions mount around the world leading to a race against the clock to figure out the purpose of the alien visit before global panic leads to a potential violent confrontation with the new arrivals.
Villeneuve builds a quiet tension that permeates throughout “Arrival.” There is this constant feeling of uneasiness from the unknown as the team tries to unravel the mystery of the alien’s arrival. The film also begins with a prologue that involves Louise’s backstory – the untimely death of her child.
Louise’s struggles are even more profound as the film spins towards the final act, one that packs an unexpected emotional punch. It’s the kind of ending that will definitely spark conversation afterwards.
Adams’ strong work helps to strengthen that punch, as we see someone completely dedicated in her work, while also haunted by something that even she can’t understand. Renner and Whitaker are both good, too, but Adams is the centerpiece in a film full of wonder and discovery. It’s not to be missed.
ALSO IN THEATERS
Another intense film with strong direction out now is “Hacksaw Ridge” (B), based on the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a World War II Army medic. It’s a fascinating story that is handled well by director Mel Gibson.
Doss’s story is fascinating. He was a conscientious objector who refused to kill and never fired a weapon but served during the battle of Okinawa and was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. The story follows Doss through his childhood up to the battle, where he saved more than 75 lives.
Gibson has shown he can stage a battle sequence in “Braveheart” and puts that to good use here, with some intense and violent sequences that put audiences right in the middle of Okinawa.
Garfield brings the right presence to Doss, but the supporting work is spotty. While I really found Hugo Weaving intriguing as Desmond’s father who was still haunted by his own demons from serving in World War I, Vince Vaughn is rather ho-hum as the commanding officer, and Teresa Palmer feels like an afterthought as the love interest.
But “Hacksaw Ridge” is more about what happens on the battlefield than off, and for that – and the fact it brings this man’s incredible story to light – it deserves to be seen.
“Hacksaw Ridge” is rated R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images and is now playing at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.